The Lion, The Witch And The Giving Tree
The giving tree is a story of unconditional love and the selfishness of humans, which is obvious in the way we treat mother nature and the ecosystem.
Introduced to the world of books by a mother who was an insatiable reader, I had never felt reluctant in choosing books over anything else.
Mother was the odd one in her family for her deep affection of the written world, I on other hand, was luckier. I was the inheritor of her love for fiction and mother was the doting key-holder to the library. I had a grand time being the listener of all the stories she created in the living room, while she worked on her laptop.
I was Alice and the house was my wonderland. I never had to chase the white rabbit down the rabbit hole to get my adventure.
Since I kept my grades up, I was encouraged to purchase every single Harry Potter book I could get my hands on. Not that I needed much prompting. I was allowed to indulge myself without any admonishment to choose something else- like outdoors or homework- over books.
I was the girl who stayed up till 2am to read Harry Potter. Flashlight under the blanket, and books at my disposal, I was one happy girl.
I was also the envy of my friends at school, for getting my hands on the novels nobody had read before. Later in, I got to narrate said books and it was there that I realized the joy behind telling stories.
I used to travel in a rickshaw to the local Government school. All our bags and lunch boxes looked the same back then because they were brought from the same shop across the school. This was also all our middle class parents could afford and it was there, riding at the back of the rickshaw, five of us girls from the same neighborhood crammed together, that we shared the joy of the made-up world.
I remember the stench of the black exhaust fumes from the cars and trucks on the road that whizzed past as I stuck my head out. Of the calls of people from the side of the wall as they sold their wares on moveable carts, but no outside voice could dim the cadence of the eldest girl in our rickshaw who told us the latest tale.
There were too many of them to keep track of, and now that I think more, a lot of the stories didn't make much sense, but back then the quality of the stories didn't matter.
Malghalara's stories were our portals to a magical world. They kept us riveted to her voice as it rose and fell depending on where the story was heading and stripped us of the boredom and monotony of school by introducing magic excitement to our play times.
Her love for stories was infectious, and I have no doubt she was the one who attracted many of the kids that rode with us to storybooks. She was a major factor in my choice to become a writer, and later the author of some essays that won prizes.
I remember the first books that were gifted to me from somebody that wasn't my mother. It was a little after the diagnosis when the ten year old me thought things were still going to be as they were before. When it hadn't hit that a few sentences would change my life forever.
I was in the hospital for another visit. They were going to do a spinal test to check why the antibiotics they were giving me weren't working. Aunt gave me these books: 'The Giving Tree', 'Narnia' and lastly 'Harry Potter and the goblet of fire.'
The giving tree taught me to stop focusing on what was happening to me and start giving what I could, even in my weak moments.
I found strength in giving and took power in how my life commenced from that day.
The giving tree by Shel Silverstein is about a little boy, who finds a magical tree.
The tree is lush and magnificent, but more than that, she's a friend and companion to the boy. The magical 'giving' tree can talk. Underneath her watchful gaze, the boy makes little crowns of the leaves, places them on his head, and as children are prone to do when they play- thinks of himself a king.
When the boy is tired, he lies underneath the shade of the giving tree and sleeps and when he's hungry, he eats the apples the tree provides. The tree watches the boy play and is happy.
Time moves on and the boy grows and so does his wants for the material world. He leaves to chase his dreams and like a dutiful friend, the tree waits. When the boy visits again, now a teenager, the tree is ecstatic. She invites the boy to play underneath it's shade just like when he was little. But the boy does not want to play.
"I am too big to climb and play," said the boy.
"I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money. Can you give me some?"
The tree is thoughtful and also a little sad but she tells the boy to take the apples from it's branches and sell it in the market to get the money. The boy is happy and leaves the tree and the tree waits, again feeling lonely upon his departure, and longs for the boy to return and to play in it's shade again. Time passes and then the boy is back, looking sad.
"Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches
and be happy."
But the boy won't play. He wants to build a family. He wants a house- and the tree offers her branches that shelters her. She gives the boy her limbs, and he boy cuts them off, uncaring that it leaves the tree naked to harsh winds and weather. He takes the branches away to build a house, selfish in his wants but the tree upon watching the boy grin, is happy.
More time passes, and soon, the boy returns more grown up.
''I want a boat that will take me away from here, can you give me that?'' he asks the tree. The tree offers again. He tells the boy to cut the trunk and build a boat. Hence the boy cuts the trunk, until the tree is just a stump and sails away- and the tree waits and waits until many years pass and the boy, finally, returns.
The boy is old now. He moves slowly, unlike the way he ran in his youth. Though the tree is very happy to see him again, she is also sad because there is only a stump left of her. She can't give the boy anything more. She tells the boy so, but the boy shakes his head slowly. He is tired, and lacks the energy to play and swing.
"I am sorry'', sighed the tree. I wish that I could give you something... but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry... But you rest on the tree stump that is left. I can give you that.'' He has no need of money, a house or a boat. All he wants now is peace. Hence, he lays down on the stump and sleeps and the tree is happy again.
Though the giving tree is a simple story, it taught me a profound lesson: care for what nurtured me, and not take more than the giver can bare to part with. If I take from this world, I must also give.
I think I know why I still cling to what brought me comfort when I was a child. There is a part of me that wants to go back to those time hence I still watch sponge bob square pants, listen to the same old songs on repeat and though the friends of my childhood now lead different lives, and have different views on how one should live- not to mention they live a continent away- I remember them the way they were on the playground.
I remember the bullies, the kind ones, and the lonely ones. No matter what their hair color, size of their lunchboxes or type of shoes everybody was equal on the playground, unless their parents had taught them otherwise.
Earth give us food to eat, shade to rest under and though it is home to many animals, the disregard for our ecosystem hurts me. We cut it to build our furniture and our homes. Sooner or later our selfishness will doom us, however that doesn't have to be the only way. By giving what we are able to give, we can revive the society.
Hence, our children must know the art of giving, and that can be accomplished by telling them stories that portrays this point.